Evolving discourses of COVID-19 and implications for medical education: a critical discourse analysis





Background: The othering of individuals has been identified as a concern during the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose of this study was to examine public commentary during early stages of the pandemic for: 1) emerging discourses that highlighted population-level inequities, and 2) the implications these discourses may have for medical education.

Methods: Using a critical discourse analysis (CDA) approach, an archive of texts available in the public domain discussing COVID-19 was iteratively created, reviewed, and coded. We used an intersectional framework to analyze how COVID-19 highlighted structural and institutional inequity at the population level.

Results: We found 86 representative texts published from March to June 2020. We focused our analysis on implications within Ontario. The two major discourses that emerged were “COVID-19 as Equalizer” and “COVID-19 as Discriminator.” The former emerged in the early stages of the pandemic to mobilize public health recommendations and describe near-universal impacts on the public. The latter followed to highlight new and pre-existing forms of marginalization exacerbated by the pandemic.

Conclusions: This study provides a unique perspective on how structural and systemic responses to COVID-19 were shaped through analysis of public discourse, and therefore, has implications for how the COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics are framed for future medical learners.


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How to Cite

Tang V, van Buuren A, Martimianakis MA (Tina). Evolving discourses of COVID-19 and implications for medical education: a critical discourse analysis. Can. Med. Ed. J [Internet]. 2022 Jun. 2 [cited 2022 Dec. 4];13(6):6-18. Available from: https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/cmej/article/view/71675



Original Research